Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Belief #2: Teachers are doing an incredible job.

Contemporary teachers are doing a better job than ever before, even as they face new and greater challenges. We are amazing people who are somehow able and willing to juggle an overwhelming number of tasks and still help kids learn. Not only do we teach; we also parent, nurse, counsel, and lobby for children, to name just a few of the roles from an ever-growing list of expectations placed on us. Carolyn Warner's “Litany” is the best list we have seen of some of the roles assigned to teachers over the past half-century.


Give specialized instruction for the hard of hearing, the blind, the developmentally disabled, the mentally challenged, and the gifted (and be politically correct while doing so); build respect for the worth and dignity of the individual; do eye testing; schedule inoculations; assist bladder control; maintain health records and age certification data; attend faculty department/grade meeting; attend professional workshops; work on an advanced degree; volunteer to supervise extra-curricular activities; participate in fund-raising; collect money to rebuild the Statue of Liberty; stress the prevention of drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse; promote physical fitness and good nutrition habits; eradicate head lice, scabies and other diseases; inculcate morals, ethics and values; maintain order and teach self-control; provide pregnancy counseling; monitor restrooms, playgrounds, hallways, parking lots, and the cafeteria; discourage food fights; breakup fist fights; pray that there are no knife fights; pray that there are no guns involved; develop individual and civic responsibility; promote ethnic and racial tolerance; eliminate gender bias and sex discrimination; develop an appreciation of other people and other cultures; protect civil rights; help develop political know-how; teach sex education and AIDS prevention; provide suicide counseling; give first aid instruction; train students in pulmonary-coronary resuscitation; teach the principles of free enterprise; teach management of money, property, and resources; assist in career planning; develop skills for entry into a specific field; teach etiquette and telephone manners; new job placement; serve hot breakfasts and lunches; dispense surplus milk; teach driver training; stress bicycle, automobile, and pedestrian safety; keep up with the latest educational trends and be ready to implement them; know the latest education “buzz” words; assist with bilingual language development; instruct in speed reading; encourage metric education; promote computer literacy; purchase enrichment materials with your own money; counsel students with small problems; counsel students with major problems; protect student privacy; communicate with parents; detect and report child abuse; follow due process procedure; unteach the 4 food groups; teach the pyramid and that broccoli is good; build patriotism and loyalty to the ideals of democracy; instill an understanding of our country's rich heritage; develop the ability to reason; encourage curiosity and a thirst for life-long heritage; develop the ability to reason; encourage curiosity and a thirst for life-long learning; develop skills in the use of leisure time; promote a feeling of self-worth; teach pride in work; avoid religion; collect, organize, aggregate and disseminate testing data; and teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Permission to reproduce given by Carolyn Warner, former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction

How many of us, upon revealing our profession to a new acquaintance, have heard, “They couldn't pay me enough to do what you do!” (and how many of us have wanted to reply, “They don't pay me enough, either”). When we encounter teacher bashing, we need to remember that most people are in awe of our courage and our abilities. We owe no one any apologies. We are doing an outstanding job under very difficult circumstances. This publication describes a set of strategies that is helping outstanding teachers do an even better job, helping struggling teachers find their groove, helping new teacher shine, and helping administrators provide a fun, safe and orderly environment for the children of their community... all while having more fun at the same time!

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